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1960s, US, colloquial, expressive coinage, with influence from scum, fuzzy, lousy, sleazy. First attested use is in reference to Ratso Rizzo in the film Midnight Cowboy (1969).


scuzzy (comparative scuzzier, superlative scuzziest) (colloquial)

  1. Dirty or grimy.
    a scuzzy toilet
    • 2012, Simon Reynolds, Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture, Soft Skull Press (→ISBN), page 281
      Outside the gay discotheques, there was also a yuppy scene of 'XTC parties' that precociously featured one of the defining aspects of rave – the eschewing of alcohol in favour of juice and mineral water. For these respectable professionals, Ecstasy didn't seem like a drug; it was cheap, there was no scuzzy paraphernalia like syringes or bongs, it wasn't []
  2. Disreputable; sleazy.
    • 2015, Eva Dolan, Tell No Tales, Random House (→ISBN), page 167
      They were easy to shrug off as harmless cranks, only interested in getting together in scuzzy pubs to talk about a revolution they would never manage to provoke, more likely to fight among themselves than raise a concerted attack on the minorities they were so opposed to.
    • 2016 March 21, Allison P. Davies, “What I Learned Tindering My Way Across Europe”, in Travel + Leisure[1], archived from the original on 2018-01-06:
      I’d been counting on Paul, a scuzzy-but-still-sexy manager of a music club in Shoreditch, to meet up with me on my first night in London.

Related terms[edit]